"My predominant role as a genetic counselor is really to serve our patient population and help support our providers," says Brittany M. Szymaniak, PhD, CGC.
In this video, Brittany M. Szymaniak, PhD, CGC, discusses her role at Northwestern University and gives and overview of the EDGe BRCA+ Men’s Clinic. Szymaniak is a genetic counselor in the urology department at Northwestern University in Chicago, Illinois.
My predominant role as a genetic counselor is really to serve our patient population and help support our providers. I see different prostate cancer indications, kidney cancer, bladder cancer as well as gastrointestinal, so colon and colon polyp, to really help figure out, is there an inherited cause for these cancers, which can give us more information for those patients as well as their family members. Day to day, I have clinic, so I'm seeing patients. We go over family history; we're figuring out, what's the likelihood that there could be an inherited syndrome in the family, and talking through the implications and figuring out how patients want to move forward with testing.
We have a program here at Northwestern that we're really very excited about, and it serves, particularly, our men that have BRCA mutations, so BRCA1 and BRCA2. These are unaffected patients who are coming in who are at high risk for specific kinds of cancers. We're able to offer screening as kind of a one-stop-shop, if you will. We're able to get them in for a dermatology assessment, make sure that we're checking for melanoma, as well as get them in with a urology provider and make sure that we're getting their prostate screening done, as well as high-risk breast to check for things like male breast cancer. [It's about] having these patients come in and be able to meet with these providers that have the specialty, that are interested in following these high-risk patients and making sure that our patients are getting the best care they can.
These providers have so much that they need to do on a daily basis, and I feel like the field of genetics is just getting more and more demanding on both the somatic and the germline side of things. I like being able to provide this niche expertise when it comes to, you know, what testing do we need to be doing for these patients? How can we best support treatment decisions for those providers and be able to provide more information for our patients on the risk side of things? That's really what I like being able to do is provide that expertise and support them so that there is less burden on the providers to have to deal with that.
This transcript was edited for clarity.